The current pandemic has had an almost universally negative effect on industry. There have been widespread layoffs across the US, leading to unprecedented unemployment levels, while the oil and gas industry deals with an oil price that dipped below $0 in the US. These effects mean that companies need to implement survival strategies that ensure they can weather an almost inevitable global recession. One of these strategies, touted by the World Economic Forum amongst others, is greater investment in digital technologies.
Clint Boulton at CIO.com shared his perspective:
“As the coronavirus, or COVID-19, paralyzes businesses and society worldwide, it’s tempting to backburner digital strategy amid the sharp uptake in business continuity and resiliency efforts. Don’t do that: Rather, accelerate business transformation efforts now to put yourself in a better position after the pandemic passes.”
Accelerating Digital Transformation Efforts
Unsurprisingly, a recent PwC survey found that up to 82% of US companies are currently implementing cost containment measures. Yet, Steve Bates, the global leader of KPMG’s CIO Center of Excellence, believes that companies need to resist the tendency to slash and burn their transformation initiatives and revert to their traditional working model. Mike Elgan at Insider Pro agrees, stating that companies actually need to increase their IT spend now to ensure they come out on the other side of the pandemic intact.
The argument is that maintaining or even increasing digital spending can increase the productivity of employees working remotely, increase operational efficiency, and keep engagement with customers undisrupted. Brad Budde, Vice President of Digital for Emerson Automation Solutions, believes this historic event will create a shift toward digital in the way knowledge workers do their work. Emerson’s business-to-business customers are already moving to digital in their interactions, Budde says, with digital inquiries up 34% since last year.
This focus on the customer will play an important role in digital technologies cutting costs and maintaining revenue during the probable recession. Blake Morgan, writing for Forbes, urges companies to switch from a product-focused mindset to a customer-focused mindset. Making the lives of customers easier, and not necessarily making things easier for the organization, should drive technology decisions.
When focusing on digital solutions for customers, IT organizations also need to consider their internal customers — employees. Getting employee feedback and providing consumer-grade technology solutions empowers employees to provide amazing experiences to customers. Keith Larson, the editor at Smart Industry, explains that crises are often a catalyst for digital change as companies are forced to experiment with new digital technologies.
Self-Service Web Portals
Implementing self-service web portals is an initiative that caters to customers, assists employees, and has probably been gathering dust on an IT executive’s desk. A self-service portal is a website or web app that enables and empowers the customer with functionality that can range from simple administrative functions all the way through to more complex actions such as ordering products and services.
When self-service portals are implemented appropriately, they have a positive impact on an organization’s productivity and IT customer satisfaction. A good self-service portal delivers tangible benefits to customers and the business as a whole. Some of the benefits of employee and customer self-service portals include:
Self-Service Portals Reduce Customer Service Costs: If customer can help themselves, that reduces the amount of time needed from the company to service its customers.
Self-Service Portals Improve Employee Productivity: Through the time saved by self-service portals, employees fielding customer inquiries will have time freed up to provide more personalized attention and care to customers who need it.
Self-Service Portals Teach Customers New Skills: Self-service portals expand clients’ knowledge and skills and give them the tools they require to address their own needs in the future.
Self-Service Portals Increase Customer Satisfaction: A successful self-service portal strengthens brand reputation by creating positive client interactions and a better overall customer experience.
For companies who haven’t built self-service capabilities, there’s no better time to start. With the social distancing measures required by the COVID-19 pandemic, your frontline employees may have their contact with customers severely limited, and therefore, helping those customers to help themselves online with a self-service web portal is an excellent opportunity.
Building Self-Service Portals
JourneyApps is a great tool for building self-service web portals: It’s is one of the only platforms where you can create an app once, and it automatically runs as a true custom-branded mobile app on Android & iOS, a native desktop apps on Windows — and most importantly in this case, a web app in the browser.
JourneyApps crucially allows web apps to be built quickly, without the need for a team of professional developers. All of this allows companies to implement new digital initiatives such as self-service portals at the speed required by a rapidly-changing market, while keeping costs at bay.
In fact, if you are an existing JourneyApps customer, and already have apps built on the platform, you can already run those apps as web apps and turn them (either in full or in part) into self-service web portals for your customers. If you need any help with this, please contact JourneyApps Support.
Continued investment in digital technologies and the implementation of customer-focused initiatives such as self-service portals will help companies adapt to the new normal and position them to excel once the tide of the COVID-19 pandemic and global recession turns. As KPMG’s Steve Bates advises: “This will come to an end and a lot of companies will leave a massive amount of money parked on the sidelines. Organizations that double down on the most important advancements to allow them to emerge more competitive are going to win.”